Live updates

Pope Francis says church may never allow women priests

The pope indicated he did not support campaigners for women priests Credit: PA

Pope Francis said he believes the Catholic church may well never accept women priests in some of his most definitive remarks on the controversial issue.

The pontiff, who has proved socially liberal on many topics, said his predecessor Pope John Paul II's 1994 ruling against opening up the clergy to women still stands.

When pressed over that would remain the case forever, he replied: "If we read carefully the declaration by St.John Paul II, it is going in that direction."

The Catholic Church teaches that women cannot be ordained priests because Jesus willingly chose only men as his apostles.

Those calling for women priests say he was only following the norms of his time.

Advertisement

Cardinal 'ashamed' of mishandled sex abuse claims

Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor admitted he mishandled sex abuse claims against a priest. Credit: Anthony Devlin / PA Archive/PA Images

Former Archbishop of Westminster Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor has admitted he is deeply ashamed of the way he handled sex abuse allegations concerning a priest in the Catholic Church in the 1980s.

Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor disclosed how, as the Bishop of Arundel and Brighton, he allowed priest Michael Hill to become the chaplain of Gatwick Airport despite Hill confessing to him that he had abused young boys.

Speaking during a Q&A session at the Hay Festival in south Wales, the 82-year-old cleric said he sent Hill for therapy before moving him to a new parish after being given assurances he would have no contact with children.

However, while at his new airport post, Hill would go on to sexually assault a young man with learning difficulties who had missed a flight.

I'd like to say something I wouldn't have said 20 or 30 years ago - think first of the victims and how important it is to listen to them and their story, the anger and the pain.

I knew child abuse was wrong and removed him from the parish.Now, under the new regulations, he would go to the social services and the police automatically.

But I don't think we were aware of the addictive nature of paedophilia and the terrible damage that's done to the victims. Now I know much more about that.

– Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor

Hill was jailed in 1997 for a string of attacks and then again for another five years in 2002 after disclosing fresh abuse during a sex offender treatment programme

Advertisement

Leader of Irish Catholic Church offers resignation

Cardinal Sean Brady, the leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland, has confirmed he has offered his resignation.

Amid much speculation that he was to stand down, the senior churchman said he wrote to Pope Francis last month asking if he could resign as Archbishop of Armagh.

Pope Francis is expected to accept the resignation of Cardinal Sean Brady. Credit: PA

"I did so in anticipation of my seventy-fifth birthday which I will celebrate tomorrow," he said in a statement today.

Archbishop Eamon Martin will take over the role as Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland as soon as Pope Francis accepts the resignation.

Vatican response to child abuse 'truly shameful'

Non government organisations representing victims of child abuse at the hands of the Catholic Church are hoping that the UN's torture committee findings will "shame" the Vatican into changing the rules on how allegations against members of the clergy are dealt with.

Sue Cox from Survivors Voice Europe said so far the response from the Vatican has been "shameful".

The response of Vatican representatives has been truly shameful. They have displayed no regret and have tried to lie their way put of the many awkward questions put to them by this committee of world renowned experts.

Francis has an opportunity to change church rules and culture but the signs are not good. Rather than engage with the UN and heed its criticisms he has tried to defend the indefensible.

I hope the UN will take action to shame the church into action.

UN torture committee to report on Catholic Church

The United Nations committee against torture will report on the Holy See's record on torture, later today.

The Holy See's record on torture has been evaluated by the United Nations. Credit: Reuters

The committee, which earlier in the month grilled Vatican officials about its record on child abuse, is expected to recognise the sexual abuse of minors and women by clergy as torture within the definition of the convention.

Last February the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child issued a damning report of the Catholic Church’s handling of its clerical sex abuse crisis, accusing it of being more concerned with protecting its reputation, than it was with looking after children.

Load more updates